The title sounds like a title from a food blog, so if you came here to read about the nutritious and biological qualities of coffee, you can leave now.
Still here? Good! What I am going to talk about is the hidden powers of coffee as a metaphor for the creative process. Are you a coffee or a tea person? Or hot chocolate perhaps? Well, I guess what I am about to say could be just as relevant for any beverage or food that you can make, enjoy and that brings people together around a table. However, my story is about coffee, I have some sort of special connection with coffee and here are my three favourite ways that coffee empowers me!
Coffee brings people together
The first time I had coffee was one of our family Sunday afternoons when the weather was too gloomy to go out and my parents had a lot of chores to do at home. I was sitting in the living room drowning myself in a fantasy adventurous world of a book I was reading. Normally, when I read I am completely lost for the real world outside my head so I barely noticed when my parents stopped their work, my father took out a copper pot and carefully prepared a portion of sweet, strong Turkish style coffee. My mom opened a box of chocolates and they served the table for an afternoon break. The living room was filled with the aroma of the coffee and I was suddenly invited by it, out of my fantasy world, back to the present moment.
My brother and I would usually have some hot chocolate with my parents on an afternoon like this, to share the moment of connection with the family. That time dad asked us if we want to try the coffee and I took my first sip of the bitter, sweet, and slightly sour drink! That time, instead of tuning back entirely in my world of books, I stayed there and listened to my parents talking about their dreams, plans, upcoming travels of my mom and interesting stories my father recently read. I suppose in that moment I started connecting coffee with intimate gatherings, openness and wonderful conversations. Years later I discovered the methodology called World Cafe and couldn’t think of a better name for it!
Coffee brings me in the present moment
Later on, at the time when I started having regular morning walks with my father, which ended with a cup of coffee by his work, he started teaching me how to prepare the perfect Turkish coffee for him. It was almost a ritual of carefully putting together the exact amount of coffee, sugar and water to make the flavours blend beautifully together.
Then brewing the coffee on very low heat, slowly and patiently until the last moment before the coffee suddenly starts boiling. It is essential to catch that moment in order to extract all the aroma from it and get the beautiful creamy foam on top. A second of distraction and the coffee will overflow the pot and everything starts form the beginning. This ritual turned for me into a special practice of preparation for the time of rest, coffee and talk. All of my attention was focused on the process and I had to be fully present in order to make it right.
I now know that this practice was a moment of mindfulness to my father that empowered him to be fully present in the conversations after. In my practice as a host I now use small rituals like this to bring people in the present moment so that we can have more light, productive and focused conversation.
Making coffee is much more than making coffee.
Making anything is much more than just making it, for that matter.
Six months ago I started working at a café as barista. You might have noticed that I love making coffee and I thought that this is the perfect way to make some extra money. This was for me a completely new way to perceive the practice of coffee making. I learned how different kinds of coffee reflect the mood, character and needs of people. I observed how people came to cafe’s to talk, and work, and read, and share… with me sometimes. I learned that making coffee is not only about making coffee but also mastering a multitude of skills and juggling between them as people came during the day.
Until this moment I was making coffee whenever I was inspired and enthusiastic to do it. When I turned that into my profession, I discovered that I love making cappuccino and I am almost always enthusiastic to make one. However, people order also lattes, moccas and espressos, and even though my job as barista allows me to make more cappuccino than ever, it also requires me to do dozens of other things. I need to balance the cappuccino making with making espresso, washing dishes, making sandwiches, cleaning toilets, and throwing out the trash.
It finally became apparent to me that that in order to do the things I love (and get paid for it) I will have to spend large proportion of my time doing things that are not nearly as fun. Learning that the perfect blend of any work that I imagine I would do is bitter, sweet and sour, dirty, fun and boring at the same time, and only that perfect combination is what gets me the invigorating results that I’ve been anticipating.